What Is Saint Basil’s Cathedral


St Basil’s cathedral

Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat is also known as the Cathedral of Saint Basil the Blessed: St Basil’s Cathedral, and is located on the banks of the River Thames. In Russia, it is the most well-known church in the country. Built on the orders of Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century, St Basil’s Cathedral is one of the most important religious structures in Moscow. Since then, it has piqued the interest of tourists visiting Moscow. Some thought it was odd, while others were captivated by its peculiar beauty.

According to legend, the cruel Russian monarch had the architect blinded in order to prevent him from creating a more spectacular palace for anybody other than himself.

What drives individuals to make up all of these stories?

When was St. basil’s Cathedral built?

Designed to commemorate the conquering of the Khanate of Kazan, the Cathedral was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in 1603. From 1555 until 1561, it was under construction. There are nine auxiliary churches at Saint Basil’s, with eight of them devoted to Ivan’s eight triumphs against the Tatars and a smaller one dedicated to Saint Basil. The main church sits in the center, flanked by nine auxiliary churches. When this famed Moscow saint was buried on the grounds of the Cathedral, his name was eventually adopted as its official name.

Basil’s Cathedral began in the year 2000.

Who built St Basil’s Cathedral?

It was two Russian architects, Barma and Postnik, who created St Basil’s Cathedral, according to historical records from the time period. Another hypothesis proposes that Yakovlev and Barma were two different people who worked together. Many serious Russian historians think that the architects were not deceived and continued to build other cathedrals around the country. It is said in a third account that the temple was constructed under the supervision of an architect from Western Europe. The peculiar composition of St.

The last version, on the other hand, is not supported by historical evidence.

St. Basil’s Cathedral architecture

St Basil’s Cathedral is one of the most remarkable cathedrals in Russia. It is located in the city of St Petersburg. According to the Marquis de Custine, a 19th-century French aristocrat who paid a visit to the cathedral, it is “like the scales of a golden fish, the enameled skin of a snake, the changing colors of the lizard, the glossy rose and azure of the pigeon’s neck,” among other things. He was perplexed as to whether “the guys who come to worship God in this box of confectionary labor” could possibly be Christians themselves.

  • Basil’s Cathedral is 65 meters tall, making it the tallest structure in the world.
  • Nine distinct temples are erected on a single foundation and are joined by interior vaulted tunnels that are ornamented with embellishments in the shape of plants and flowers.
  • In addition, the structure lacks a clearly articulated frontage.
  • The cathedral is constructed entirely of bricks.
  • Regardless of how complicated the temple’s structure appears to be, it is quite rational.
  • The cathedral is laid out in the shape of an eight-pointed star.

Architectual rendering of St Basil’s Cathedral In Christian symbolism, the eight-pointed star has a profound significance: it represents the entire Christian church, which serves as a guiding beacon in a person’s life as he or she journeys toward Heavenly Jerusalem.

The mystery of colors

The church in the sixteenth century looked very different from the building we see now. The vibrant colorful mosaic on its domes was not seen until the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The original Cathedral was predominantly painted in red and white. According to a large number of art historians, the Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed was constructed as a visual portrayal of the Eternal Jerusalem. It was intended to represent both a town and a paradise in the midst of the bustling metropolis of Moscow.

Is it necessary for it to look like Jerusalem?

Throughout history, people’s perceptions of what paradise should seem like have evolved along with them.

The brilliant design of the cathedral domes gives the impression that it is a flowering garden of paradise.

St Basil’s Cathedral inside

The inside of the cathedral is not particularly huge, yet it is cozy and evocative. You may go from one church to another via a maze of dimly lit passageways, gaining an understanding of the building’s medieval origins. The church is now a museum, which is open to the public. What are the most compelling reasons to enter?

  • Locate the Basilica of St. Basil and hear the legend of the Russian holy idiots while on your journey. Take pictures of the inside of the church. Photography is not permitted in the majority of Russian churches. Investigate the hidden compartments in the walls where treasures were hidden in the past. Learn about the acoustics of Russian churches and how they work. The church male choir, which will be singing in one of the chapels, will be a genuine highlight of your stay.

The inside of St. Basil’s Cathedral

Visiting the cathedral

It is located at the following address: Moscow, Red Square; the nearest metro stations are ‘Okhotny Ryad,’ ‘Tetratralnaya,’, ‘Ploschad Revolyutsii,’ and ‘Kitay-Gorod.’ Working hours: The church is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 45 minutes before the end of the day’s admissions. From June through August, the hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on September, October, and May. From November to April, the hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please keep in mind that the church is neither pram or wheelchair accessible.

During your tour of Red Square, you will be able to view St Basil’s Cathedral.

The Cathedral of St.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia

Detailed explanation of our logo: Saint Basil’s Cathedral Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, was constructed between 1555 and 1561 under the direction of Ivan the Terrible. According to legend, the cathedral’s architect was blinded after the edifice was completed, ensuring that a monument of such magnificence could never be created again. The brightly colored domes and vibrant redbrick towers contribute to the building’s striking look. The domes are located in nine distinct chapels within the cathedral, and each dome represents a different phase of the city’s defense against the Russian invasion.

When viewed from the top, the eight domes that surround the ninth dome in a round pattern appear to create a star shape when viewed from the bottom.

Throughout its history, the cathedral has been ravaged by fires, looting, and other occurrences, resulting in significant damage.

Basil’s Cathedral back to France with him.

His troops had prepared for the attack and had lighted the gunpowder, but a weird rain shower prevented any explosions from taking place on the battlefield. photographer Julius Silver is credited as the source of the photograph.

Saint Basil the Blessed

Tsar Ivan IV (the Terrible) built the cathedral of Saint Basil the Blessed on Red Square in Moscow between 1554 and 1560, also known as Pokrovsky Cathedral, RussianSvyatoy Vasily Blazhenny, or Pokrovsky Sobor, as a votive offering for his military victory over the khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan. However, the church was renamed the Cathedral of Vasily Blazhenny (St. Basil the Beatified) after Basil, the Russian holy fool who was “idiotic for Christ’s sake” and who was buried in the church vaults during the reign (1584–98) of TsarFyodor I.

  • Basil the Blessed in Moscow, 1554–60, was dedicated to the protection and intercession of the Virgin Mary.
  • Armstrong Posnik and Barma, two Russian architects, were commissioned to design the church (who may in fact have been one person).
  • The interior of St.
  • Jupiter photos courtesy of AbleStock.com/Jupiterimages J.E.

St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia – Russia Travel Guide

The St. Basil’s Cathedral is the most well-known artistic achievement of architecture in Moscow. Affectionately referred to as “The Pokrovsky Cathedral” or “The Cathedral of Intercession of The Virgin by the Moat,” it is the most recognized structure in Russia. Because it is a honored emblem of Russia’s history, present, and future, this Cathedral has the same significance to Russians as the Eiffel Tower has to the French.


The cathedral is located in Red Square, directly across from the Ivory Gate Chapel. History of St. Basil’s Cathedral began in 1555 with the construction of the cathedral on the command of Ivan IV (“Ivan the Terrible”) to commemorate the loss of Kazan, the last surviving stronghold of the Mongol Empire in European territories. Some historians believe that Ivan the Terrible blinded the architect of St. Basil’s Church shortly after the construction was completed in order to prevent him from building another cathedral on the same scale as the first.

Upon the Bolsheviks’ taking control of Russia, the Cathedral was shuttered, its bells were melted, and its archpriest was murdered.

Another occasion when the Cathedral was threatened was when Stalin believed that it was a hindrance to his military parades and planned to demolish it.

Stalin miraculously changed his mind, and the heroic architect Piotr Baranovsky was sentenced to a couple of years in prison for his efforts to save St.

Basil’s Cathedral. On the walls are more than 400 icons painted between the 14th and 19th centuries by the most prominent schools of Novgorod and Moscow, and they date from the 14th to the nineteenth century.

St Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow

  • The construction of St Basil’s Cathedral began in 1561 to commemorate Russia’s victory over the Khanate of Kazan. Though it is officially known as the Cathedral of The Intercession, St Basil’s Cathedral is more commonly known as St Basil’s Cathedral, which was named after the holy fool Vasily, who lived in the 16th century. The Soviet Union recognized the cathedral in the 1960s as a significant and irreplaceable national monument. This historic building received substantial repair and was transformed into a museum showcasing the arts of architecture, history, politics, and religion. Unlike many other ancient structures, St Basil’s was spared demolition under Stalin’s dictatorship
  • Yet,

The Cathedral of St Basil has become a widely recognized symbol of Russian culture. With its location on Red Square next to the Moscow Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral is a vital component of Moscow’s cityscape as well as an incredible feat of ancient Russian architecture, since it combines eleven distinct churches into an impressive unified ensemble. And what can you discover there today? What is the narrative behind this monument to Russia’s spiritual, political, and architectural history, and what can you find there now?

St. Basil’s Cathedral during Imperial Russia

photo courtesy of The Kazan campaign during Tsar Ivan IV’s reign served as a backdrop to the construction of St Basil’s Cathedral. It was the final in a series of conflicts between the Khanate of Kazan and Russia that had lasted more than a century. Ivan the Terrible made a pledge to build a cathedral to commemorate Russia’s triumph at the Battle of Kazan in 1552, before embarking on his key assault to seize the city. Following the Russian conquest of Kazan on October 2nd, the wooden Trinity Cathedral, which was surrounded by seven chapels, was completed.

  • The precise designer of St Basil’s Cathedral has not been determined; nevertheless, Barma and Postnik, two Russian architects, are often credited with the project.
  • According to legend, Ivan the Terrible was so taken aback by the church that he ordered its architect to be blinded, ensuring that its unparalleled beauty and splendor would never be duplicated.
  • Consecration of each church was done in commemoration of significant events in Russian spiritual or political history.
  • What if I told you something you already knew?
  • The building remained the tallest structure in Moscow for 39 years after it was completed!
  • Ivan the Terrible was impressed by the supernatural talents of Saint Vasily (Basil), who was a holy fool and soothsayer known for his abilities.
  • In addition to being open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and being the only heated church in the cathedral ensemble, the chapel quickly became synonymous with the cathedral as a whole.

In 1812, Napoleon’s army stormed Moscow and ransacked the cathedral, converting it into stables for horses. When Napoleon was fleeing from Moscow, he ordered his chief of artillery to demolish the cathedral; however, the torrential rain quickly killed the fuses of the explosives that had been lit.

St. Basil’s Cathedral during Soviet Russia

photo courtesy of As a valuable and irreplaceable national monument, St Basil’s Cathedral was recognized by the Soviet Union. They resolved to preserve and renovate the cathedral, as well as to turn it into a museum showcasing collections spanning the fields of architecture and history as well as politics and religion. St Basil’s first opened its doors to the public in May 1923, and in 1928 it was designated as a section of the State History Museum, where it has stayed ever since. What if I told you something you already knew?

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Exploration of the cathedral continued long into the twentieth century, with archaeologists on the lookout for wealth, hidden tunnels, and other hidden treasures.

Lazar Kaganovich, one of Stalin’s closest colleagues, proposed that St Basil’s Cathedral be demolished; Kaganovich had already presided over the demolishment of Christ the Saviour Cathedral and the Kremlin’s Kazan Cathedral, among other buildings.

Baranovsky is credited for rescuing the Basilica of St.

St. Basil’s Cathedral today

Photo courtesy of Nicole Pankalla’s website, Pixabay. In 1990, the Cathedral of St Basil was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it continues to be such today. As soon as church services were re-established in 1991, work began to restore the cathedral’s bells to their former glory. Today, the bell tower is home to 19 bells that range in age from 25 to over 500 years. The Basilica of St. Basil the Great was named one of Russia’s Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Today, St Basil’s Cathedral is a hive of activity, both religious and secular in nature.

What can you see at St. Basil’s Cathedral today?

  • Exterior: The architecture of St Basil’s Cathedral is unlike any other in all of Russia. All of the cathedral’s nine church towers are topped with candy-colored onion domes and adorned with tiers of cornices, kokoshniks, windows, and brightly colored tiles and designs. Interior: The St Basil’s ensemble consists of eleven churches, each with its own distinctive architectural and artistic embellishment, and each of which has been dedicated in commemoration of major events in Russian political and spiritual history. Amazing works of art, huge iconostases housing hundreds of superb icons, and precious exhibits belonging to the church and imperial family are all on display for visitors to enjoy.


Photo courtesy of Oleg Shakurov’s website, Pixabay. St Basil’s Cathedral has a design that is unlike anything else in Russia, and it is a testament to the extraordinary ability of its designers, who dared to defy the customary canons of religious architecture in order to build it. Its nine towers are topped with candy-colored onion domes that exude festivity and joy as they rise over the city. Each tower is adorned with many levels of cornices, kokoshniks, and windows; floral motifs snake up the porches, steps, and galleries; and geometric tiles and patterns punctuate the brickwork throughout the structure.

Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, various emperors and empresses made considerable changes to the look of the cathedral.

What if I told you something you already knew? It took 32 tons of 1mm-thick copper sheeting to cover the domes, which spanned an area of 1,900 square metres.


The interior of St Basil’s is particularly interesting because of the wide range of architectural and artistic styles that can be seen there. The cathedral’s treasures include oil paintings, frescoes, portraits, and landscape paintings; iconostases containing over 400 masterpieces of Moscow and Novgorod iconography from the 16th to the 19th centuries; and valuable exhibits belonging to the church and imperial family. The cathedral is open to the public on weekends and holidays. Within the cathedral, a maze of vaulted interior corridors and galleries connects each chapel, which is decorated from floor to ceiling with vibrant geometric patterns and natural elements.

Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin

A photo taken from the central chapel of St Basil’s Cathedral, which bears the cathedral’s formal name. From the inside of the central church, you can get a sense of the real magnitude of the cathedral. St Basil’s Cathedral was completed on July 12, 1561, and the original brickwork and paintwork have been retained in certain areas, including an inscription commemorating the date of completion (12th July 1561), which is lighted by a spectacular chandelier. The massive iconostasis in the Baroque style was transported to Moscow in the late 1700s.

Church of Cyprian and Justina

On October 2, 1552, the chapel was dedicated in honor of the martyrs Cyprian and Justina, whose memorial day commemorates the conquest of Kazan by the Russian army. The white columns bordering the octagonal chapel house large paintings representing the lives of saints, which reach towards a center fresco of the Virgin Mary, which is a highlight of the chapel. Scenes from the Creation are depicted on a gilded iconostasis in the Classical style. The Dome of the Church of Cyprian and Justina is a blue and white vertically striped dome that crowns the whole structure.

Church of St Gregory of Armenia

a photo taken from one of St Basil’s four little chapels, which were erected in honor of Saint Gregory, the missionary who was responsible for converting Armenia to Christianity Ivan’s expedition culminated in 1552 with the demolition of the Arsk tower of Kazan’s stronghold, which occurred on the feast day of St. Nicholas (30th September). Colorful iconostasis adorned with silk and velvet drapes contrasts with the austere bleached walls of the chapel. Architectural characteristics from the 16th century, religious clothes from the 17th century, traditional candles, and a beautiful enamel lamp are also on display, among other things.

Church of the Three Patriarchs of Constantinople

photo courtesy of The remembrance of patriarchs Alexander, John, and Paul is honored on August 30, the anniversary of Ivan’s victory against Tatar Prince Yapanchi in 1552, on which the patriarchs were killed. On the walls and ceiling, oil paintings show the patriarchs and other sacred figures, while a massive five-tiered iconostasis, a combination of Baroque and Classical elements, towers over the congregation.

The dome of this chapel, which is one of the cathedral’s lesser ones, is composed of green and red rhombuses.

Church of Saint Vasily (Saint Basil)

photo courtesy of However, despite its little size, this chapel is possibly the most lavishly painted, with vivid paintings depicting holy icons and incidents from the life of Saint Vasily adorning the walls. The iconostasis was designed and built under the supervision of renowned artist Osip Chirikov. A considerable portion of it extends along the surrounding walls, and its icons are placed against a gold, crimson, and blue backdrop; two ancient icons of special note are Our Lady of Smolensk and The Image of Saint Vasily the Blessed, both of which date back to the 12th century.

Church of the Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem

This church commemorates Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, also known as the Feast of the Palms. The solemn whitish walls are punctured by ancient elements from the 16th century, and damage inflicted by shelling during the October Revolution can be seen above the northern door, which is located over the northern door. The iconostasis of this cathedral was adapted from the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in the Kremlin, and it depicts episodes from the life of this famous Russian warrior and statesman.

Church of the Holy Trinity

This church is dedicated to the preservation of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. Its design is light, beautiful, and calm, and much of the original architecture and ornamentation has been retained, including the cathedral’s oldest chandelier and one of its most respected icons, the Old Testament Trinity. The Old Testament Trinity is one of the cathedral’s most revered icons. In the direction of the pinnacle of the dome, cream and green stripes curve, mimicking the spiral of eternity that adorns the inside of the dome.

Church of Alexander Svirsky

St. Alexander Svirsky, who was responsible for converting Northern Russia to Orthodoxy, is commemorated in this little church. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia On the 30th of August, the feast day of this saint is also observed. The interior of the chapel is decorated with paintings that seem like brickwork, and a spiral of eternity wraps around the inner dome; the façade is composed of curving stripes of green and cream coloration.

Church of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker

This photograph was taken inside a large church dedicated to Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, whose venerated icon was transported from Vyatka to Moscow in 1555. This event of great spiritual significance is depicted in murals, and the iconostasis of the church depicts the life of Saint Nicholas. The decoration of this chapel is particularly rich, with colourful paintings reaching to the ceiling and an iconostasis embellished with floral motifs in gilded stucco. The exterior dome is covered with red and white zig-zag stripes.

Church of Varlaam Khutynsky

An additional one of St Basil’s little chapels, this one topped with a dome made out of green and yellow triangles. St. Varlaam Khutynsky, an ascetic who was venerated by Ivan IV and his father as the patron saint of the imperial dynasty, is honored in this monument. The feast day of St. Ivan the Terrible, celebrated on November 6, commemorates Ivan’s triumphant return to Moscow in 1552. The iconostasis is decorated with icons from the 16th to the 18th centuries, with a massive hanging icon, The Vision of the Sexton of Tarasia, portraying the prediction of a succession of tragedies that would befall Novgorod, being of special importance.

In addition to being the first piece of art in the history of ancient Russian art to show a complete city, this icon depicts Novgorod with stunning topological precision, which makes it particularly interesting.

Church of John the Blessed

In November 2018, the cathedral ensemble’s eleventh and final church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, opens its doors to the public. In honor of Saint John, a holy fool, a chapel was dedicated in his honor. The chapel has a gilded iconostasis, relics of the saint, as well as a modest display of religious goods and artwork.

Bell Tower

Addition to the cathedral’s ensemble in the late 1600s; this edifice is significantly separate from the main construction. Photo courtesy of An octagonal tent with tiny windows and multicolored tiles atop the structure serves as the roof’s roof structure. The Veil with Basil and John the Blessed, a massive and famous icon, may be seen on the southern wall of the bell tower, to the right of the entrance. The St Basil’s Cathedral offers a variety of themed and general excursions that may be booked in advance, but for a more pleasurable and educational day out, consider taking Express to Russia’s private Moscow tour, which includes a visit to this majestic structure.

What’s nearby?

  • Located between the Kremlin and the ancient Kitai-Gorod area, Red Plaza is surrounded by some of Moscow’s most renowned landmarks and is considered to be the most famous square in Russia. Located in Moscow, the Kremlin has been an iconic emblem of Russian culture and statehood for centuries, housing cathedrals and churches as well as 20 towers and sumptuous palaces
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is recognized for its magnificent architecture, and it is Moscow’s most famous department store and premier luxury shopping destination. GUM Department Store Located on the banks of the Moskva River, Park Zaryadye is a vast park with portions that recreate Russia’s different environment as well as an observation platform that provides a spectacular view of the Kremlin.

Essential Information for Visitors

Contact Information and Addresses Red Square, Moscow, 109012 Okhotny Ryad (550m), Ploshchad Revolutsii (650m), Teatralnaya (650m), Okhotny Ryad (550m), Teatralnaya (650m) (700m) +7 (495) 698-33-04 (Toll-free) Hours of operation are 10:00-18:00 from June through August. 11:30-18:00 from May to September and October, and 11:30-17:00 from November to April. The first Wednesday of every month is a closed day.

12 Facts About Saint Basil’s Cathedral

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, which was originally built in the mid-16th century and stands magnificently near the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, has watched over innumerable historical and political events throughout the country’s history.


The construction of the cathedral was ordered by the first Tsar of Russia, Ivan Vasilyevich—also known as Ivan Grozny (a moniker that means “sparking fright or fear,” or “stern”), Ivan IV, and the Grand Prince of Moscow—in 1554. Ivan, the grandson of Ivan the Great, was present when the cathedral was completed in 1561, although he was interred at the adjacent Archangel Cathedral after his death.

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A number of battles erupted as a result of Ivan’s desire of military domination over a central Russian state during his reign. His soldiers overcame the independent Tatar khanates of Kazan and Astrakahn in the 1550s, and the chapel was constructed in commemoration of their triumphs.


The legends and tales about Ivan’s boiling anger abound, with one involving his purposely blinding the cathedral’s (unnamed) Italian architect in order to ensure that the design could never be reproduced. The architects, according to some tales, were a couple of Russians named Barma and Posnik, or they might have been one individual.


The Cathedral of the Intercession, also known as the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat, is a church dedicated to the protection of the Virgin Mary that is located on the Moat. Pokrovsky Cathedral, Pokrovsky Sobor, and Svyatoy Vasily Blazhenny are some of the other names for the building.


Basil (also known as the Blessed, the Beatific, and the Wonderworker of Moscow) was born in 1468 and raised as the son of commoners, where he received his training as a cobbler.

He became well-known for his prophetic abilities as well as for being a “fool for Christ,” and after his death in 1557, he was buried in the cathedral that would later bear his name.


It is comprised of nine modest, distinct chapels that are aligned to points on the compass, four of which are elevated to indicate their location between heaven and earth. The central nave is 156 feet high, and the chapels are divided into three sections. In addition to the Protecting Veil of Mary, chapels are dedicated to the Entry into Jerusalem, Saints Kiprian and Ustinia, the Holy Trinity, St. Nicholas Velikoretsky, St. Gregory of Armenia, St. Barlaam Khutynsky, St. Alexander Svirsky, and the Three Patriarchs.


The original hue of the cathedral was reported to be white in order to match the white stone of the Kremlin, and the domes were said to be gold. Beginning in the 17th century, the façade and domes started to be painted in the vibrant hues that can be seen today, with the pigment believed to have been derived from a biblical description of the Kingdom of Heaven found in the Book of Revelation.


Since the 15th century, the enormous open space and market area in Moscow has served as both the geographical and metaphorical focal point of Russian society. On the western end of the plaza, known as Kresnaya Ploschad in Russian, stands the ancient fortress and government complex known as the Kremlin, which is 800,000 square feet in size and dates back to the 13th century. Cathedral Square is home to a variety of spectacular cathedrals, including the Assumption Cathedral, and Saint Basil’s Cathedral, which is located at the southern end of the square.


Saint Basil’s Cathedral, which was confiscated by the Soviet government following the Bolshevik Revolution, has served as a museum and tourist attraction since 1929. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, there have been sporadic church services performed at the cathedral, and every October, a ceremony in commemoration of the Day of Intercession is held at the cathedral.


A scale replica of the cathedral was constructed in the city of Jalainur, which is located in northeastern Inner Mongolia about 3200 miles west of Moscow and roughly 700 miles north of Beijing. However, the cathedral has never been utilized as a church. When Davide Montoleone visited the building in 2015, he remarked that the gorgeous turrets and domes were actually merely shells, and that the fossils on display were not genuine. The structure, which housed a children’s scientific museum as well as a store selling fake fossils, was a bizarre sight, he said.


The Cathedral of St. Basil’s fell out of favor once Joseph Stalin was appointed as dictator of the Soviet Union, and the building was in risk of being demolished to make way for greater protests and marches to take place on Red Square. Pyotr Baranovsky, an architect, is said to have sent Stalin a telegram in which he stated that he would rather die than see the old cathedral demolished.

He was sentenced to five years in prison as a result. During that time period, the state’s stance shifted, and Saint Basil’s was spared from destruction.


The Kremlin and Red Square were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). It is one of sixteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Russia.

St Basil’s Cathedral

St Basil’s Cathedral, located at the southern end of Red Square, is considered to be the most important structure in Russia. Russia’s architectural style is exemplified by its kaleidoscopic explosion of colors, patterns, and shapes, which is the culmination of centuries of development. On the Feast of Intercession in 1552, Ivan the Terrible took the Tatar stronghold of Kazan, bringing the city under his control. To celebrate the triumph, he commissioned this historic cathedral, which is formally known as the Intercession Cathedral.

  1. The seeming disarray of forms in the cathedral conceals a coherent structure consisting of nine principal chapels.
  2. The four largest domes are atop four octagonal-towered chapels: the Church of Sts Cyprian and Justina, the Church of the Holy Trinity, the Church of the Icon of St Nicholas the Miracle Worker, and the Church of the Lord’s Entry into Jerusalem.
  3. Finally, there are four tiny chapels tucked in between the larger ones.
  4. According to legend, Ivan blinded the architects in order for them to never be able to create something like again.
  5. The Church of St Vasily the Blessed, located on the first level in the northeastern chapel, includes the crypt of its namesake saint, who is considered to be one of Moscow’s most venerated figures.
  6. He was adored and dreaded by everybody, including Ivan the Terrible, who considered him to be a seer and a miracle worker.
  7. The icon representing St Vasily himself, with Red Square and the Kremlin in the backdrop, may be found at the entrance.

St. Basil’s

The onion domes and spires of St. Basil’s Cathedral rise above Moscow’s Red Square and capture our collective imagination of Russia in an undefinable way, perhaps as a “colorful toy resting in the palm of this cobblestone field” or as a majestic icon of grandeur and power, depending on your point of view on the subject. As a wonder of the world, St. Basil’s Cathedral on the Moat (formally known as the Cathedral of the Intercession on the Moat) permits a wide range of symbolic interpretations based on similarly ambiguous, folklore origin stories to be offered.

  • Despite the fact that the domes are unevenly spaced from a horizontal perspective, the Cathedral is flawlessly symmetrical when viewed from the upper level.
  • Vasily (Basil) the Blessed, who was known as a “yurodivy” or idiot in Christ, and is credited with giving the edifice its common name.
  • It is unknown where the unusual onion domes got their inspiration from, given that the Cathedral was built before the Mughal empire, which had domes that looked similar.
  • Basil’s was erected on the orders of Tsar Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) to celebrate the capture of the Tatar fortress of Kazan in 1552, and it is the most important church in Russia.
  • It is possible that the cathedral was designed by a single architect or by someone whose name is a blend of the two.
  • It is a general concept of power, solidarity, and continuity that has come to be associated with St.
  • But who exactly these concepts apply to and who they include are questions that have no straightforward answers or uncomplicated interpretations in Russian culture.

Ivan the Terrible, the troops, and even the Tatars are dramatized and inflated, making the historical account of the war difficult to decipher.

In order to establish the legitimacy of his authority, Ivan would have sought confirmation from higher forces, absorbing the monarchy’s idea of ‘divine right’ in order to defend and safeguard his position, as suggested by the word ‘Intercession’ in the Cathedral’s original title.

As Yurganov points out, the Cathedral tends to be associated more with the ‘holy fool’ St.


Accordingly, it is very feasible that Russians consider the Cathedral more appropriate to be revered as the tomb of a popular, saintly critic rather than as the triumph monument of a brutal tyrant.

Stalin was seeking to rid the Soviet Union of the last vestiges of imperialism when he died in 1953.

Regardless of the popular view, the desire to monumentalize the symbolic achievements of governmental bodies did not diminish when Russia became the secular Soviet Union in the early twentieth century.

The Palace of Soviets was intended to be a monument in the spirit of constructions like as St.

In March 1934, Time magazine pronounced the structure to be “Russia’s latest and grandest monument,” and that it would be “the world’s largest and tallest edifice.” Construction of the Palace began as a replacement for antiquity’s monuments, and it was erected on land that had previously been occupied by another colossal cathedral, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which had to be demolished to make way for the new edifice.

A cathedral is a symbol of both our longings and intents, as William McDonaugh writes in his book “The Cathedral.” Cathédrales and cathedral-like structures play a particularly important role in this dual role since they are both manifestations of human desire to worship and of the necessity or goal of seizing godlike power.

  • When Ivan the Terrible stands in front of St.
  • Aleksandr Vasilevich Viskovatov’s picture of Tsar Ivan IV, titled Tsar Ioann Vasilevich Groznyi, was painted in the 1800s, long after Tsar Ivan IV had actually reigned, but it serves to memorialize the enhanced prestige that his monument, and later personal monumentalization, bestowed on him.
  • St.
  • — Carolyn McBride, November 2009 Sources “St.
  • 91.169 (1999): 12 in the Christian Science Monitor.
  • In Perspecta29 (1998), pages 78-85, the author argues that “St.
  • Journal of Russian Culture and Literature 44.6 (2001): 34.

NYPL Digital Gallery, accessed November 6, 2009. “Essay: A Centennial Sermon: Design, Ecology, Ethics, and the Making of Things,” by William McDonough, is available online. In Perspecta29 (1998), pages 78-85, the author argues that

The mysterious origins of Moscow’s multicolored landmark

The construction of Saint Basil’s Cathedral, which was finished in the mid-16th century, prompted the spread of a narrative about the eclectic Orthodox cathedral, which is located in the centre of Moscow. In addition to being an architectural marvel – the highest structure in the city, owing to new brickwork knowledge brought over by the Italians – it was a display of Russian power at the conclusion of a century-long war. According to rumors, the Grand Prince of Moscow, notoriously known as Ivan the Terrible, ordered the building’s architects to be blinded so that they would never be able to erect another structure of such grandeur.

  • Despite the fact that the architects’ names have remained a mystery for over five centuries, it is generally accepted that the design should be attributed to two architects, Barma and Postnik Yakovlev.
  • Located in Moscow’s Red Square, next to the fortified Kremlin complex, Saint Basil’s Cathedral is a must-see.
  • “This is an issue that has arisen several times throughout the history of Russian architecture, even as recently as the 18th century.
  • During Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, Moscow was completely destroyed.
  • Today, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, also known as Pokrovsky Cathedral, is comprised of a number of red brick chapels that are arranged around the biggest, central structure.
  • The cathedral, which is recognized across the world for its fairytale-like look, receives approximately 400,000 tourists every year and has become as a significant cultural symbol.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte came very close to blowing up the cathedral in 1812, and Joseph Stalin came dangerously close to destroying it in 1935.
  • The edifice, which was originally known as Trinity Cathedral, was destroyed by fire in 1583 and reconstructed during the following decade.

Saint Basil’s has also witnessed a number of conflicts and political shifts, including: It survived a second devastating fire in 1737, was nearly destroyed by French military general Napoleon Bonaparte in 1812, and was threatened with demolition under the rule of communist leader Joseph Stalin in the early twentieth century.

A Show of Power

What is known about the tower is that it was built as a display of military power in 1555 by Ivan IV of Russia to commemorate Russia’s victory over the Kazan Khanate during the century-long Russo-Kazan War. “It (the cathedral) has a very evident political significance,” Brumfield explained. ‘It demonstrated the strength of Ivan the Terrible’s position as Grand Prince — he would eventually become recognized as the first tsar.’ “Russia was truly a foreign land,” noted Russian architectural historian William Brumfield of the country’s early history.

  1. They were composed by mercenaries from other countries who were working for Ivan (IV).” Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images are used with permission.
  2. Basil was a Holy Fool who was known to Ivan and who was said to have prophecy powers, including the prediction of the great fire that raged through Moscow in 1547 and the eventual reign of Fyodor.
  3. It quickly rose to become the most visited chapel, with tourists seeking healing flocking to it for prayer.
  4. Between 1475 and 1510, Italian builders reconstructed the Kremlin as well as two prominent churches, bringing with them their new and creative Renaissance techniques that had been developed in Italy.
  5. In a fairly symmetrical arrangement, the architects behind Saint Basil’s designed the series of chapels, with each chapel containing an altar devoted to a saint linked with Ivan’s reign.
  6. “They (Russian architects) absorbed Italian technology and learnt to make these tall vertical buildings,” he added.
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Colorful cupolas

According to Brumfeld, despite the fact that the onion dome has become synonymous with Russian architecture, no one knows exactly how they came to be in the Tsardom. It’s probable that Saint Basil’s was the first institution in the region to embrace them as a practice. “At some time, the concept just spread throughout Russia,” he explained. “Onion domes were being installed by priests all throughout Russia in place of domes.” In addition to the two 18th-century wooden churches on Kizhi Island, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, a 19th-century landmark in St.

  • According to Brumfield, theories claim that the cupola styles of the Ottoman Empire were adopted by the builders of St.
  • Alternatively, they might have made a reference to the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which is visible in the background.
  • Credit:Shutterstock “During this era, the Russians were beginning to regard their area as the new sacred land,” Brumfield explained.
  • They felt that this left the door open for a new city to rise up and take over as the sacred capital.
  • They were gradually introduced throughout history, from the late 17th century through the mid-19th century, when new fashions embraced bright colors.
  • Saint Basil’s isn’t the only cathedral in the world that has been decorated in vibrant colors.
  • This church in Irkutsk, Russia, is brilliant red like Saint Basil’s and stands out with its vibrant blue domes, which are reminiscent of the domes of the Basilica.
  • “It has the appearance of a live entity.
  • “The core, on the other hand, has always been special.

It is universally adored. There is no other structure in Russia that inspires such dedication and affection as Saint Basil’s Cathedral.”

Saint Basil´s Cathedral

It is also known as Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Kremlin, or the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed. It is a former church located on Moscow’s Red Square and is now known as Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Kremlin, or the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed. The cathedral is formally known as the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Blessed Virgin on the Moat (Russian: окровски соор) or Pokrovsky Cathedral (Russian: окровски соор). The edifice, which is now a museum, was originally constructed as a church in the 16th century.

  • This structure has served as the focal point of the city’s development from the 14th century and was the highest structure in the city until the completion of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in 1600.
  • The 10th church, which was built in 1588 over the burial of beloved local saint Vasily, was added in the 19th century (Basil).
  • It was also used as an allegory of the Jerusalem Temple during the annual Palm Sunday parade, which was attended by the Patriarch of Moscow and the tsar.
  • According to Dmitry Shvidkovsky’s book Russian Architecture and the West, Russian architecture is influenced by the West “It’s unlike any other Russian structure in the world.
  • Unpredictability, intricacy, and the spectacular interweaving of the many aspects of its design characterize its weirdness, which astounds the viewer.” As a foreshadowing of the zenith of Russian national architecture in the 17th century, the cathedral was built in the 16th century.
  • Because of its historical significance, the cathedral has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Moscow Kremlin and Red Square since 1990.
  • The Red Square in the early seventeenth century.
  • The building with three roof tents in the foreground left is the original detached belfry of the Trinity Church, which has not been scaled down for the sake of this illustration.

The Trinity Church of the Kremlin is located behind it, a little closer to the path that leads from St. Frol’s (later Saviour’s) Gate of the Kremlin to the Red Square. Lobnoye Mesto is the name of the horseshoe-shaped structure near the road in the foreground.

Construction under Ivan IV

Historic records indicate that the site of the church had been a bustling marketplace located between the St. Frol’s (later Saviour’s) Gate of the Moscow Kremlin and the outer posad. The Trinity Church, which was made of the same white stone as the Kremlin of Dmitry Donskoy (1366–68) and its cathedrals, was at the heart of the marketplace. The church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. For each victory in the Russo-Kazan War, Tsar Ivan IV built a wooden memorial church close to the walls of Trinity Church; at the end of his war in Astrakhan, the church was surrounded by an entire cluster of seven wooden memorial churches.

One year later, Ivan authorized the construction of a new stone cathedral on the site of Trinity Church, which would serve as a memorial to his military campaigns.

Chronists firmly designated the new structure as Trinity Church, named after the church’s easternmost sanctuary; nevertheless, the designation of “sobor” (great assembly church) has not yet been bestowed upon it: That year, under the direction of the tsar and the lord and grand prince Ivan, construction began on the pledged church, which included the Trinity and Intercession chapels as well as seven sanctuaries, known as “on the moat,” which had been promised in exchange for the capture of Kazan.

And the builder was Barma, who was accompanied by others.

The church was said to have been erected by two architects, Barma and Postnik, according to tradition; the church is listed as “Barma and Postnik Yakovlev” in the official Russian cultural heritage record.

According to legend, Ivan blinded the architect in order to prevent him from re-creating the masterpiece elsewhere, however the genuine Postnik Yakovlev was still alive at least until the 1560s.

Architectural style

There are disagreements over the sources that inspired Barma and Postnik because the church has no counterparts in either the previous or contemporaneous architecture of Muscovy, or in the Byzantine cultural legacy in general. The cathedral’s corbel arches, according to Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, have Byzantine and ultimately Asian origins; he denied European influences on the structure. The cathedral, according to a modern “Asian” idea, is a replica of the Qolsharif Mosque, which was demolished by Russian forces after the siege of Kazan was over.

David Watkin described the cathedral as “the apex” of Russian vernacular timber building, describing it as a “combination of Russian and Byzantine” roots in his writing.

In Kolomenskoye, according to historian Sergey Podyapolsky, the church was erected by the Italian architect Petrok Maly, despite the fact that conventional history has not yet acknowledged his claim.

Dmitry Shvidkovsky argued that the “improbable” shapes of the Intercession Church and the Church of the Ascension in Kolomenskoye represented the beginnings of a national renaissance, combining earlier Muscovite elements with the influence of the Italian Renaissance in the city’s architectural design.

  1. According to Shvidkovsky, these two organizations aided Moscow’s rulers in the formulation of the ideology of the Third Rome, which in turn fostered the integration of contemporary Greek and Italian cultural traditions.
  2. Other Russian academics observed a resemblance to sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, despite the fact that he was not well-known in Ivan’s Moscow at the time of the discovery.
  3. By the quantity of unique characteristics introduced with Trinity Church, according to Andrey Batalov, it was most likely built by German artisans, as indicated by his writing.
  4. The rusticated pilasters of the central church, which are more frequent in modern Northern Europe than in Italy, serve as an indirect reminder of the German influence on the building.

The brickwork in the vaults is done in the Italian manner, to be precise.


Instead of following the original ad hoc layout (seven churches around the central core), Ivan’s architects chose a more symmetrical floor plan with eight side churches around the core, resulting in “a thoroughly coherent, logical plan,” despite the erroneous latter “notion of a structure devoid of restraint or reason,” which was influenced by the memory of Ivan’s irrational atrocities, which produced “a thoroughly coherent, logical plan.” I In addition to the center core and four bigger churches located on each of the four major compass points, the four smaller churches located diagonally from each other are cuboids, despite the fact that their shape is scarcely discernible due to later modifications.

  • The largest churches are built on vast foundations, whilst the smaller churches were each built on an elevated platform, as if they were hovering over the earth’s surface.
  • The bigger central church was purposefully placed back to the west from the geometric center of the side churches in order to accommodate the larger apse on the eastern side of the building.
  • This impression is strengthened by the fortress-style machicolation and corbeled cornice of the western Church of Entry into Jerusalem, which is modeled by the genuine defenses of the Kremlin and serves to support it.
  • The Church of the Intercession, the tallest and most significant of the buildings, is 46 meters tall internally yet has a floor size of only 64 square meters.
  • It was possible to use the hallways as internal parvises; the western corridor, which was decorated with a distinctive flat caissoned ceiling, served as both the narthex and the entrance hall.
  • Plans from the late 16th and early 17th centuries illustrate a straightforward construction with three roof tents, which are most likely coated with sheet metal.
  • The edifice seen in August von Meyerberg’s panorama (1661) is a distinct one, with a cluster of miniature onion domes around it.


The foundations were constructed of white stone, as was customary in medieval Moscow, but the churches themselves were constructed of red brick (2814.08 cm), which was at the time a relatively new building material (the first attested brick building in Moscow, the new Kremlin Wall, was started in 1485). Structure surveys reveal that the bottom level is exactly aligned, showing the use of professional drawing and measurement, but that each additional level gets less and less regular, indicating the use of amateur drawing and measurement.

Built as a life-size spatial model of the future cathedral, this frame, which was constructed of intricately connected thin studs, was eventually filled in solid masonry.

When the site necessitated the use of stone walls, a brickwork pattern was painted over the stucco and used as a decorative medium both inside and outside the building.

There is little evidence of the sculpture and spiritual symbols that were used in older Russian architecture; floral embellishments are a later addition to the structure.

Instead, the church is distinguished by a variety of three-dimensional architectural components that are constructed in red brick.


From the 1680s to 1848, the church underwent several stages of transformation before achieving its current vibrant colors. The 17th century saw a shift from a conservative to an optimistic attitude toward color in Russia. The number of paints, dyes, and combinations accessible for icon and mural painting exploded, as did the number of possible colors and combinations. The original color scheme, which did not include these advances, was significantly less difficult to work with. In accordance with the description of the Heavenly City in the Book of Revelation: “And he who sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like an emerald.” Around the throne were four and twenty seats, and on the chairs I saw four and twenty elders sitting, all dressed in white raiment, with gold crowns on their heads.” “And around the throne were four and twenty seats,” I said.

Eight miniature onion domes surrounding the center tent, four around the western side church, and four elsewhere all serve to hint to the 25 seats mentioned in the biblical passage, and the form of the building reflects this.

Within the church, red brickwork or painted imitation brickwork was combined with white ornamentation in about similar proportions to form the walls of the building.

The moderate use of green and blue ceramic inlays added a splash of color to the room, as required by the Scriptures.

Boris Eding wrote that they were most likely of the same onion form as the modern-day domes, which he believes is correct.


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